Merty McGraw is a Senior Engineer Lead at Strava, based in San Francisco. We wanted to find out what it is actually like to work as an Engineer at Strava and what excites her about working there. Here’s what we found…
What do you do as a Strava Engineer?
I am a Senior Engineer II/Engineering Lead. Historically, I have worked on projects closely related to Strava’s core functionality, which boils down to ensuring the recording of an athlete’s activity is authentically represented on Strava. As you can imagine, this encompasses a lot of different things, including what stats we ingest/display for different activity types, what achievements we highlight, and what analysis graphs we draw for both single activities and groups of activities over various periods of time. More recently, I have stepped into an Engineering Lead role, which means that I work closely with engineering, as well as cross-functional partners, to ensure research, design, engineering, marketing, and analytics are working in lockstep to deliver top-notch products for our community of athletes around the world.
What’s your favourite thing about working at Strava?
It would be nearly impossible for me to pick just one thing, but there are three main aspects that continue to make me excited about working at Strava four years in: the product, personal development opportunities, and the team.
It is incredibly motivating to work on a product that my friends, family, and I use on a daily basis. Being able to watch friends and family enjoy a feature that you’ve built is awesome.
Every time I have expressed interest in learning a certain technology or developing a particular skillset, Strava has helped me do so. Strava’s Leadership, especially in the technology organization, really cares about investing in and developing talent internally. I have reaped the benefits of this philosophy time and time again at Strava.
I have genuinely enjoyed working with every individual I have collaborated with over the last four years. Strava hires great people, and there are plenty of opportunities to get outside of the office with your colleagues for a walk, hike, run, or bike ride. Because we spend time getting to know one another beyond a work/deliverable exchange, Strava’s work culture is one that is incredibly caring and empathetic.
How do you feel you make an impact in your role, what excites you?
One of the ways I think I make a big impact is in Strava’s approach to hiring. There are so many aspects of hiring that are incredibly important to me: ensuring there is female representation on technical interview panels, constructing a candidate experience that allows people to showcase their strengths rather than their weaknesses, and comprehensive sourcing that introduces us to a diverse set of candidates, to name a few. Last year, I had the opportunity to hire our first cohort of engineers from non-traditional educational backgrounds—a mix of bootcamp students and self-taught engineers. I think inclusive hiring practices like these help make the tech industry accessible to people of all backgrounds, and I’m looking forward to working on the next iteration of this program.
In what ways have you developed your skills since joining Strava?
I joined Strava as an intern after making a career switch into engineering. When I was applying to jobs, I got so many rejections because I had “coding bootcamp” on my resume. Unlike so many other companies, Strava was willing to take a chance on me.
Four years later, I am a Senior Engineer II and an Engineering Lead for my product vertical. I have had the opportunity to learn from incredible engineers, mentor early career engineers, help Strava adopt new technologies, pitch projects for our product roadmap, develop new hiring practices, and so much more. At Strava, I have been able to grow both my hard and soft skills, which is incredibly important to me.
What are some of your passions outside of the office?
I’m absolutely obsessed with the ocean. In one of my past lives, I spent a year working in the scuba diving industry as a Divemaster, so I take any chance I can to spend time underwater or nerding out about ocean creatures. The coolest one I’ve seen, you ask? Giant Pacific Manta Rays. Their wingspans can be up to 30 feet wide!